Community Policing and the Syrian Refugee Community in Wellington District

Author: Tohill, Yvette
Published in National Security Journal, 08 March 2021

Particular opportunities exist for Community Police to improve understanding and access to Police services, develop initiatives to support Syrian women and improve engagement with Syrian youth. Greater access to relevant information and services in native languages would empower members and communities with the means and opportunity to accept more responsibility for improving their own situations. Including ethnic community leaders within the alternative resolution pathways of the New Zealand Police could provide a bridge across cultures, demonstrating a responsiveness to multiculturalism, and supporting systems which are sympathetic to traditional non-western cultures.

Support from Police management needs to be demonstrated in the operational environment. Greater investment in cultural and refugee background training for Community Police is needed to facilitate genuine engagement and visibility in non-crime settings. Meaningful consultation and sincere relationships provide a platform to identify opportunities that the Syrian refugee community feel are needed, as opposed to Police assessments of needs. Involvement with the Syrian refugee community during initial resettlement would enhance the opportunities for engagement and education from an earlier stage. As a recent migrant community, New Zealand is in an optimal position to address challenges and opportunities when they first emerge, positively impacting on the experiences of crime and safety for this group of people.

The exploratory nature of this study leaves room for further research, on both sides of this topic. Understanding if the perceptions of refugee support workers are reflective of the Syrian refugee community themselves will provide further definition of challenges and opportunities. The application and analysis of Community Policing initiatives with the Syrian refugee community would enhance the identification and understanding regarding what constitutes successful outcomes.